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In the continuous struggle to cut down on my extravagant food spending and eat a more wholesome diet, I developed a dish that I not only crave enough to make week after week, but is surprisingly healthy and inexpensive to make. It’s perfect for that loathsome ‘meal-prep’ racket, toward which any health-minded professional finds themselves inevitably driven, because it holds up so well being reheated, even 5 days later.

I was lucky enough to stumble upon some red lentil pasta at Trader Joe’s and it is life changing… as far as pasta can be life changing. Red lentils are the only ingredient and it has 13 grams of protein per serving. If you don’t live near a Trader Joe’s, you can order it for an exorbitant price on amazon, because guilt-free pasta is worth it! Well, maybe not, but I didn’t want to deprive you the opportunity to find out for yourself. You could sub in whole wheat or brown rice pasta to make it slightly healthier than traditional. Or just go with regular old pasta if that’s your jam.

Besides being an easy lunch to reheat at work, this is also the perfect dish to make for your omnivore friends who think vegan food is scary or weird. Because it’s really freaking tasty.

Also I did the math (roughly) here is the nutrition break-down per serving (based on using lentil pasta):

300 calories, 19 grams of fat, 23 grams of carbs, and a whopping 23 grams of protein!

Delectably Creamy Pasta with Sautéed Mushrooms and Spinach

makes 6 servings

3/4 cup cashews (soaked in water for a few hours)

2 cloves garlic

pinch of salt and pepper

1 25 oz jar of tomato sauce of your choice

12 oz red lentil pasta, cooked according to package

1 tbs olive oil or vegan butter

1o oz sliced crimini mushrooms

1/4 tsp chili flakes

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

5 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 cup white wine

2.5 cups fresh baby spinach

5 basil leaves, chopped

zest of 1 lemon

optional: chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Blend the cashews, garlic, salt and pepper with 1 cup of the tomato sauce until the cashews are completely smooth. Then add the remaining sauce and continue to blend until completely integrated into a nice pink sauce.

Cook the Pasta according to the package, set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and spread them out as best you can in a single layer and cook for about 5-8 minutes. They should release their liquid then start to dry out. Toss them a few times, but don’t stir often, so that they get a nice, brown sear. Add the chili flakes, salt, pepper, and garlic, and stir a minute or so until the garlic starts to brown.

When the pan seems really dry and the mushrooms and garlic have those nice browned edges, pour in the wine. Give it a good stir and then add the spinach. Stir continuously until the spinach has shrunk and wilted. Add the basil and lemon zest and stir for another 30 seconds or so.

Add the cooked pasta and the pink sauce to the mushroom pan and stir everything to combine. Keep scraping and stirring the pan for about a minute over the heat, which will cause the sauce to thicken a bit. Remove from heat and serve sprinkled with fresh parsley. This keeps beautifully in the fridge for a week and tastes just as yummy reheated in the microwave for 2 minutes.


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